Rating: NC-17 (for bad language)
Summary: It's not that Elijah's pissed to see Dominic per se; but given his expectations, he wouldn't exactly say he's pleased.
Notes: thepsychicclam requested AU with a happy ending, and I was happy to oblige! Season's greetings - I hope you enjoy your gift. :)
Post-reveal Notes: Thank you to my beta, the fabulous kyuuketsukirui.
Disclaimer: This is a non-profit, non-commercial work of fiction using the names and likenesses of real individuals. This fictional story is not intended to imply that the events actually occurred, or that the attitudes or behaviors described are engaged in or condoned by the real persons whose names are used without permission.
Elijah kills the engine and sits in silence for a few seconds, listening to the thunk, thunk-thunk of heavy rain on the car's roof and bonnet. Shaking off his nerves, he clicks on the dashboard light and eases himself carefully over the stick and into the passenger seat, pulling down the visor as he goes. He bears his teeth into the little vanity mirror, checks for gunk in his eyes, boogers in his nose. Breathing into his cupped hand, he sniffs, then grimaces. After digging in the glove box for gum, he gives his hair the once over, ensures his zipper's up and stretches back to the wheel for the car keys.
He knows it's all pointless, really - the person waiting to assist him isn't going to look twice, no matter how clean his nasal passages are. That doesn't stop Elijah's stomach from doing that excited little flip it does whenever he knows the object of his affections is close by.
The store entrance announces Elijah's arrival with a sing-song alarm; his giddy smile dies on his lips barely a second later.
"Oh. You're here."
It's not that Elijah's pissed to see Dominic per se; but given his expectations, he wouldn't exactly say he's pleased. Dominic just grins back, raising his eyebrows and licking at the Chupa Chup - stolen, no doubt - in his hand, his tongue stained red.
"Why are you here, Dom?" Elijah says, dumping his bag on the counter.
"Why are you here?" Dominic shoots back, pointing his candy at Elijah and then popping it back in his mouth.
"I asked first."
"But I'm the one who's been here for hours, and you're the one who just got here," Dominic lisps around the lollipop. "Logic dictates I get to ask the questions." He leans forward on the counter and affects a stern expression, rolling the candy around until it's trapped behind his front teeth. "Explain yourself, cupcake."
"Were you even down to work tonight?" Elijah asks, ignoring Dominic's argument. He walks behind the counter and heads for the staff schedule posted on the side of the cigarette display, trailing his finger down the sheet of paper until he finds the faint pencil markings beside December 24th. "It says here Orlando's meant to be closing with me tonight. Where is he?"
"Got a hot date with some girl he met here last night. Begged me to take his shift." Shrugging, Dominic sidles over to where Elijah sags with barely contained disappointment. "So what's your excuse? It's practically Christmas."
"I need the cash more than a night off. Christ, I so didn't expect to be working with you tonight."
Dominic actually looks hurt. Elijah tries to feel guilty and fails. "Sorry to disappoint," Dominic mutters, returning to his stool beside the cash register and pulling the lollipop out. "Go home if you like," he says, his expression sullen. "It hasn't been busy. I can manage."
"And leave you alone with all this candy?" Elijah straightens up, trying to look boss-like. "Not to mention the porn. I know what you do when you're left on a night shift unsupervised."
The hurt look on Dominic's face melts into a more familiar one of self-satisfaction. "I only look at the girly mags. How else am I meant to learn about what women have down there?" He laughs at Elijah's grimace. "It's just a little educational tourism, cupcake. Chill out."
"Don't tell me to chill out when you're damaging stock," Elijah says. "And stop calling me cupcake, douchebag. I hate it."
"I know. Why do you think I do it?" Reaching for a pack of cigarettes, Dominic hands Elijah his lollipop and winks. "Hold onto that for me, would you? I'll be back in a jiffy."
Elijah watches Dominic step outside and light up beneath the store's awning, feeling a muscle under his eye start to twitch involuntarily. Dropping the half-sucked Chupa Chup into the small trash can beneath the register, he rests his elbows on the counter and puts his head in his hands.
"Think of the money," he mutters to himself. "Just think of the money."
"So, do you think Orlando's scored yet?"
Elijah lowers his clipboard just enough to glare over the top of it. "I don't care."
"Sure you do, cupcake - you're fooling no-one. I bet he's already giving her a good, festive seeing-to." Dominic grins. "Ho, ho, ho."
Elijah can only scowl back, his stock-check officially disrupted. "What do you mean, fooling no-one?"
"We all know you fancy the arse off that idiot," replies Dominic. Elijah's stomach drops and his mouth goes dry. Dominic's well aware that he's hit a nerve, his grin broadening. "But don't worry, Orlando's too thick to notice your tiny boners every time he bends over."
Realising too late that he's gaping at Dominic, Elijah ducks his head back behind the clipboard and wills his heated cheeks to cool down. "You talk so much crap, Monaghan. It's, like, embarrassing how much crap you talk," he mutters. "Shut up and let me concentrate."
"Mmm-hmm," Dominic hums, out of sight but annoyingly well within earshot. "Keep telling yourself that if it helps you sleep at night, but everyone knows the truth. Except Orlando, of course; you could poke him in the eye with that lusty little cock of yours and he still wouldn't realise you have the hots for him."
"Only if by 'disgusting' you mean correct."
"Ah, touché. Another winning argument from Team Wood." Dominic gets up and stretches his arms high above his head, grinning triumphantly. "I'm putting the kettle on. Fancy a brew?"
Elijah scowls back, barely resisting the urge to throw his clipboard square at Dominic's stupid, smug face. "Fuck off."
"Two sugars, splash of milk. I'm on it."
Orlando looks pleased with himself, like the cat who's got the cream. Dominic says as much as he hands Orlando a fist full of change and a thin plastic bag containing a bumper box of condoms.
"Not got. Definitely about to get, though," Orlando clarifies, winking lewdly to ensure his message is delivered loud and clear.
Dominic leans over the counter and strains to see the car in which Orlando's date is waiting. "I can't believe you left her out there, all hot and bothered and alone. You should have brought her in here so we could've had a good look at the girl."
"And expose her to you? You must be kidding."
"You could expose her to Elijah," Dominic says, smiling broadly. "He's safe. All sweet and soft, like a kitten." His grin widens even further. "Or a cupcake."
Elijah feels his cheeks heat up again, humiliation turning his stomach as Orlando laughs along with Dominic. "You're both cunts," Elijah mutters, dropping the magazine from behind which he had surreptitiously watched Orlando and heading towards the manager's office. He pauses only to help himself to a packet of chocolate cookies on the way, tearing open the wrapping before he's even made it to the end of the aisle.
He's already four down when Orlando announces himself with a soft knock at the door and a pouty face. "Come on, Elijah, don't sulk," he pleads, pushing his bottom lip out even further. Elijah tries to glare at him and fails; Dominic may be an ass, but he's not far wrong when it comes to Elijah's pointless crush on Orlando. Elijah hates Dominic just a little more for that.
"I'm not sulking."
"You are a bit, though. You know you can't leave Dominic alone like this - he'll eat all the Curly Wurlys and dogear the best porn if you're not there to keep an eye on him."
"He's been doing that anyway," Elijah sighs, reaching for another cookie. "He's such an asshole. I can't believe you switched shifts with him."
"He practically begged," Orlando replies with a what-could-I-do? shrug, "And I felt sorry for him."
That gets Elijah's attention. "He told me that you begged him so you could go on a date."
Smiling knowingly, Orlando shakes his head. "More like he wanted a date with you." Laughing when Elijah's eyes bug in surprise, Orlando leans over and grabs a handful of cookies. "You all think I'm as thick as two short planks, but at least I can see what's right in front of me: Dominic fancies you rotten, Elijah."
"I doubt that," Elijah scoffs. "He takes actual pleasure in irritating me."
"Like little boys in the playground, you two," Orlando replies, tutting. "He only does it to get your attention." Cramming two cookies into his mouth at once, he turns to leave.
"Oh!" He chews forcefully for a few seconds, holding an index finger aloft and eventually swallowing. "And I'm totally flattered that you like me, but I'm a boob man, you know? No offense. And Merry Christmas!"
With a cheery wave, Orlando flings open the door and heads back out onto the shop floor, leaving Elijah's jaw on the carpet and his ego in tatters.
"You told him?"
Dominic licks the tip of his right index finger and turns the page of his girly mag with practiced nonchalance. "I told who what, cupcake?"
"You told Orlando, you cunt!" Elijah reaches across the counter and pulls the magazine from Dominic's hands. "Why would you do that?"
"Hey, careful!" protests Dominic. "You break, you buy, sweetheart."
"I can get you fired, you know. You should be more careful, you fucking prick, you hear me?"
Elijah breathes through his nose, slowly crushing the magazine between shaking hands. An expression of sudden understanding crosses Dominic's face; Elijah can practically hear the metallic ching of the penny dropping in his self-centered brain.
"Does this have something to do with you fancying Orlando?"
"Oh, wow; you think?" Elijah spits back. "Ten points to you, genius. Why the fuck did you have to shoot your mouth off about it? Do you realise how embarrassing that is? Not to mention unprofessional."
"Okay, you need to calm down, Elijah." Dominic stands, raising his hands in surrender. He glances over to where a female customer is hovering beside the baked beans, shamelessly eaves-dropping on their squabble, and drops his voice. "I know I like to take the piss, but I didn't tell Orlando anything."
Rolling his eyes, Elijah lets out a humourless laugh. "So it's a crazy coincidence that he just told me to back off, huh? A goddamn Christmas miracle?"
Dominic shrugs. "I suppose it is, yes."
"Liar!" Vibrating with rage, Elijah flings the crumpled magazine back at Dominic. He jabs a finger Dominic's way, trying to think of something smart to say. "You-- You're-- Oh, fuck you. Go fuck yourself, okay? From now on, stay out of my face or I'll have you fired. Understood?"
Turning on his heel before Dominic has a chance to reply, Elijah stalks back through the store and slams the office door behind him.
"I didn't tell him."
Elijah sucks in a little breath of annoyance before sliding the pennies he had just counted back across the counter and beginning again.
"I didn't. I know you don't believe me, but I never said a thing."
"You can go home, you know. Your shift finished a half hour ago," replies Elijah, refusing to tear his eyes from the register count Dominic is trying so valiantly to ruin.
"I cleaned the staff loo instead. It was horrible in there, but I thought it was about time, you know? And I marked down all the festive shite ready for Boxing Day." Dominic pauses. "And I never told Orlando."
"Change the fucking record, Dominic," Elijah mutters, starting over on the pennies for the third time.
"I know you don't believe me, but I wouldn't--"
"You know, Orlando told me something else pretty interesting. Something about you." Elijah feels a satisfied thrill at the panicky look written across Dominic's face. "Wanna hear it?"
Dominic blinks once, twice; a rabbit in the headlights.
"It was pretty juicy gossip." His count forgotten, Elijah leans forward on the counter and grins. "You should be more careful about who you trust."
"It was only fifty quid!" blurts Dominic, "I'll put it back in the safe as soon as we get paid!" The momentary paralysis forgotten, he strides up to the counter, placing his hands together as if he is about to pray. Elijah steps away from him, taken aback by this unexpected outburst. "Please don't tell anyone, I can't afford to lose this job. The gas bill was so fucking high last week and it totally cleaned me out. I only took it to pay the rent - I was going to get kicked out if I dodged it any longer, and I couldn't face begging for a sofa to crash on over Christmas. I promise I'll pay it back!"
Elijah stares at Dominic, utterly unsure of how to proceed. He eventually manages a useless, "Uh," closing his mouth straight after and dropping his eyes.
Dominic reaches for Elijah's right arm and grasps it just above the wrist. "Please. I know I'm horrible to you, but you can't tell anyone."
Easing Dominic's pinching fingers from around his skin, Elijah fixes him with a serious look. "I can't believe you're doing this to me. You know full well that I could get fired if I don't report this. Why should I do you of all people any fucking favours?"
"Because it's Christmas?" offers Dominic hopefully.
"Oh, so you've spent the last six months making fun of me and now it's the time for goodwill to all men? You should have thought twice before you told Orlando about me. I mean, what the fuck, Dom?"
"I didn't fucking tell him!" Dominic throws his hands in the air and backs away from the counter. "I'm going to kill that skinny dickhead next time I see him. He promised he wouldn't say anything about the money, and now this? Lying little cunt!"
Elijah watches him storm through the shop towards the staff break room, shaking a little from the exhilaration of finally rattling Dominic's cage. After taking a long, cleansing breath inwards, he reaches for his pile of pennies and begins counting again.
It's close to one when Elijah is finally ready to head home. With the takings counted and stowed away in the safe, he flicks the lights to the manager's office and locks the door behind him.
A thin strip of light is still shining beneath the break room door; in his infinite wisdom, Dominic clearly hasn't snuck out while Elijah was preoccupied. "Idiot," Elijah mutters under his breath, exhaling heavily before reaching for the handle. "I'm locking up, Dom. Time to go home," he calls out to a deceptively empty room.
"Bye bye!" Dominic's voice sing-songs from behind the door. Elijah sighs again and pokes his head around to find Dominic half hidden beneath one of the small tables provided for lunch breaks. Crouching, he sees Dominic is propped up just enough to avoid spillage from the bottle of tequila in his hand.
"What are you doing under there?" Elijah grouses. "C'mon, get up. I want to get out of here." He tilts his head to the side and narrows his eyes. "Did you steal that?"
"I did!" replies Dominic, no hint of remorse. "I took it, and now I'm drinking it."
Sighing heavily, Elijah lets his ass fall back and hit the carpet. "Are you actively trying to get fired?"
Dominic shrugs. "Why not? You're going to dob me in for that fifty, aren't you?" He looks away with a little frown. "I should've quit on my first day."
"Do you honestly think I'm the problem here?"
"You hate me. You hated me straight away."
"You gave me fucking good reason, Dom. It's wall-to-wall goddamn bullshit, every single day, and it always has been."
"I didn't tell Orlando."
Elijah groans. "Change the damn record, will you?"
"Fine." Dominic crawls out from beneath the table, taking care not to hit his head or spill his drink. "I just stuck reduced stickers on those shite Santa cups no-one's bought. Go find us a couple and we'll share a little Christmas drinky." He pauses, and smiles. "Let's pretend we're mates, just this once."
"Only if you pay for them on your next shift," Elijah says. "And the alcohol. And the fifty you stole. And if you call me cupcake, I'm out of here. I'll lock you in this place and throw away the key."
Dominic laughs. "Go get the bloody cups."
"I can't believe I've only worked here six months," Dominic says. "This year has dragged."
Elijah nods. "It really has. Mainly because you've been a constant pain in my ass."
"Not all the time."
"All the time, Dom," counters Elijah. "You get off on pushing my buttons, and don't deny it."
"It's not personal, sweetheart," says Dominic with a little smirk. "The only problem with you is that you don't get off on making dickheads like me suffer for it."
Swishing the last of his drink around, Elijah raises his eyebrows and knocks it back. "Don't tempt me, sweetheart."
Dominic cackles at that. His face is ridiculous, like a shaven monkey, but for once Dominic's laughing with Elijah, not at him. It makes a nice change. Despite himself, Elijah feels himself relax just a little. "You know, Orlando didn't tell me about the money."
"I know. I called him earlier and had a go at him for it. Totally ruined his second crack at that bird he took home. Now he's pissed off at me, too."
"Why did you tell him about me, huh?" Elijah asks, his frown returning. "Do you hate me that much?"
"Didn't say a word. Scout's honour. I know it's a crazy thought, but I don't live to ruin your life."
Elijah huffs out a little laugh. "I'm not convinced. So if you didn't tell him, how did he know?"
"You have no idea how much you wear your heart on your sleeve, do you?" Dominic asks with a smile.
Elijah can't help but wince.
"He's straight, you know," says Dominic. He reaches for the liquor and refills Elijah's cup without asking. "I don't want to rub your face in it, but--"
"Yeah, yeah - I know. Can't help who you crush on though, can you?"
"No," Dominic agrees. "Unfortunately."
"Speaking of which, want to know what Orlando did tell me?"
"Sure. Hit me."
Elijah smirks a little. "Well, our resident gossip queen reckons you have the hots for me. Didn't have the heart to tell him you really are just an asshole. He thinks it's playground games. Funny, huh?"
Dominic looks normal. He even sounds normal. But as Elijah stares, he sees the very tips of Dominic's ears turn red. "Oh my god!" he crows. "Dom, you don't-- I mean, really? Me, of all people?"
"What?" Pulling a wide grin, Dominic raises both his hands. "Um, no. Of course I don't, you arrogant twat."
Elijah narrows his eyes and watches the redness spread down Dominic's neck. "Dom..."
"This is so typically you, Elijah, thinking you're God's gift to mankind."
"This is crazy," Elijah says.
"What is? I don't feel a thing for you!"
"Then why are you so red?"
That stops Dominic in his tracks. Self-consciously raising his hands to his cheeks, he mutters a quiet fuck under his breath and glances up at Elijah. "I'm drunk," he replies eventually. "I'm just a bit pissed, s'all."
Elijah stares back at him, narrowing his eyes just a little. Dominic quickly falters under the scrutiny, opting to stare hard into his cup and knock back the rest of his drink. He reaches for the bottle the second he's done swallowing, pouring himself a generous measure. Without asking, he holds out the bottle to Elijah; without thinking, Elijah holds out his cup for more.
"I'm in no state to drive," says Elijah, wishing he'd considered the practicalities of his journey home before Dominic's lifted liquor had become a part of the equation. "Fuck, man, it's cold out there tonight. There's no way I'm walking home."
"We could just crash here. Drink ourselves through Christmas Day." Dominic takes a healthy swig of tequila. "That was what I planned on doing either way."
Elijah frowns a little. "You don't have plans with your family?"
"They don't talk to me anymore," replies Dominic, his voice carefully free of self-pity. "No big deal."
"I didn't realise. I'm sorry."
Dominic smiles. It almost reaches his eyes. "Like I said, no big deal." Standing, he reaches out. "What do you have planned?"
Taking Dominic's hand, Elijah hauls himself reluctantly to his feet. "Call my folks. TV dinner for one. Surf for porn. The usual."
"Wow. And I thought my Christmas was going to be pathetic!"
"Hey!" Elijah gives Dominic a little shove and grabs the tequila from him. "Asshole."
"Wanker," Dominic bites back, a familiar glint in his eye.
"That the best you can do, Monaghan?" Elijah replies, knocking a shot back direct from the bottle. "After all the crap you've thrown at me lately, I have to say I expected better."
"Make that a miniature, bug-eyed, friendless, self-important, jobsworth wanker, in that case," says Dominic, an evil smile spreading over his face.
Elijah can't help but snort. "Wow, look at all the big, long words you know! You should be careful your head doesn't explode, shit-for-brains."
And then Dominic's right there, far too close, and he's wetting his bottom lip and moving in for what Elijah realises too late is a kiss. The sheer surprise means he hasn't a chance to protest when Dominic's lips press against his own; at least that's what he tells himself when he doesn't back away the very second he grasps what's happening. And then it's too late, because one of Dominic's hands is cradling Elijah's jaw, tipping his face upwards, and the other is at the small of Elijah's back and pulling him in closer.
It's over before it's even really begun. "You don't know anything thing about me," Dominic mutters, a brief window of opportunity to escape that Elijah somehow misses. It's inexplicable, really, because it's the perfect moment to get out of this situation. Instead, Elijah realises he's somehow not only allowing the kissing to carry on, but actually kissing back. The tequila bottle dangles by his side, occupying a hand; Elijah knows he could stop this awkward situation if he only had two hands free. With one, he's forced to grab a handful of Dominic's t-shirt, to palm the back of Dominic's neck - to pull him closer, not push him away. Not good, especially when Dominic's stubble is scratching at Elijah's cheek and chin and lips and nose and filtrum, and each scrape is going straight to his dick.
His pushing away somehow amounts to pulling back, a gradual strategy that only results in the rather misleading pinning of Dominic against the break room wall. Dominic laughs against Elijah's mouth, but only for a second; then his teeth are pulling on Elijah's bottom lip, and the only way Elijah can find to make clear his displeasure is to grunt out what sounds, even to his ears, like a pleased little nugh, and to roll his hips against Dominic's.
"Nugh," Dominic agrees, launching back into the kissing with renewed vigour. And then his hands are struggling with Elijah's pants, and Elijah's only aware of the thunk of the tequila bottle hitting the floor and the taste of the liquor on his own breath as he pants against Dominic's neck.
"Well. This is awkward," Dominic comments, chuckling weakly before dropping his eyes to his feet.
Elijah dies a little inside.
They stand in silence for a few moments, watching the rain fall across the courtyard outside the store, before Elijah pulls his cell phone from his pocket and unlocks it. Scrolling through his recent calls - Home, Home, Pizza Hut, Home, Pizza Hut - he eventually finds the number of a local cab firm and taps to call. Dominic watches quietly as the booking's made, saving all his insight for the second Elijah hangs up.
"So, you're getting a taxi home, huh?"
Elijah clears his throat, suddenly aware of the social pressure weighing down on his shoulders.
"It must be nice to be able to afford cabs and that," Dominic says. "I guess I'll walk. I mean, walk home. I've missed the last bus, and I can't afford luxuries right now. Like cabs."
Sighing, Elijah bites. "How far is it?"
"Oh, home?" Dominic's faux nonchalance is almost pitch perfect. "I don't know... an hour's walk?"
"Yeah... maybe longer." Sighing dramatically, Dominic fishes around in his coat pocket and pulls out a pair of bright red, woolen gloves. "Going to need these bad boys." Taking longer than strictly necessary to wiggle his fingers into them, Dominic holds his be-gloved hands up for Elijah's inspection and smiles. "Right, that's me all ready to go. Wish me luck, eh?"
"Good night, Elijah." Dominic leans in awkwardly and kisses Elijah on the cheek. He pulls back a little and smiles, a genuine one this time. "Happy Christmas."
It isn't that Elijah cares. One drunken make-out-jerk-off-instant-regret session isn't enough for that to happen, especially not one as ill-advised as this. Still, the sight of Dominic clearly soaked to his skin only half a mile down the road, heading straight into the driving rain...
Elijah sighs heavily and slouches in the back of his cab, trying to shake off the nagging sense of guilt. He focuses instead on his nagging need to piss, regretting not having gone to the bathroom while he had the chance.
Digging his hands into his coat pockets, Elijah's fingers brush something unfamiliar. With a little frown, he twists and digs deeper, pulling out a strawberry-cream Chupa Chub with a strip of till roll wound around its stick. Unrolling it, Elijah leans towards the window to catch enough illumination from the street lights to read the unfamiliar scrawl.
Sorry for being a cunt to you, cupcake. You know I don't mean it.
"Oh, Jesus," Elijah mutters, rolling his eyes and crumpling the scrap in his palm. "Sir?" he calls, leaning forward towards the taxi driver. "Could you turn around, please? I need to pick someone up."
Dominic blinks at the cab through his dripping hair, smiling when he sees Elijah hanging out of the back-seat door.
"Get in," Elijah calls, scooting over to make room.
"I can't afford this, you know," Dominic says, climbing in beside Elijah regardless. "But I can pay you back."
"It's on me."
"Aw. Well, thanks."
"We're going back to mine," Elijah says, trying to make his voice sound as authoritative as possible. "And you're going to crash on the couch, okay? That's it. You can stay tomorrow if you want, if you'd rather have company. I mean," he pauses, glancing at Dominic, "I'd like it if you would stay tomorrow. To keep me company." Catching himself slipping, Elijah affects a stern expression again. "But that's all. Hanging out. As friends, or whatever."
Dominic nods, and then he smiles. "Okay."
"Okay," Elijah agrees, glancing out of the window as he involuntarily smiles back.
"I saw that."
"You saw nothing."
"I didn't even know you could smile before tonight," Dominic says, flashing a grin that momentarily distracts from the hand he's sneaking over Elijah's thigh. "It's a goddamn Christmas miracle."
Elijah pauses for a second before reaching into his coat pocket for the candy Dominic left there. "Ho, ho, ho, douchebag," he says, pulling off the wrapper and placing the lollipop on his tongue. "Ho, ho, ho."